Dumont doctors must prove Vitalité's failures, expert says
University of New Brunswick economist says other hospitals may also want to separate
Doctors at the Dr.-Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital should use a threat of separation from the Vitalité Health Network as a last resort, according to a health expert.
Medical staff at the Moncton hospital voted to leave the health authority and claimed the administration is too cumbersome and is hurting patient care.
Weiqui Yu, an economics professor at the University of New Brunswick, who studies health-care policies, said the hospital’s doctors must clearly outline precisely where all of the inefficiencies are in the system if they hope to convince the provincial government their request is legitimate.
"With the fiscal situation there isn't the budget to have another network or simply abandon one and begin another one," Yu said.
The health-care expert said the risk is that other hospitals in the province will want to follow suit.
"If this group of doctors are successful in leaving, it would really create an enormous amount of instability in the system, that will not be good news to anyone," she said.
Health Minister Ted Flemming said Rino Volpé, the newly-hired chief executive officer for Vitalité, should improve the situation at the hospital.
So for now, the health minister will not allow the Dumont hospital to become an independent health authority.
The former Liberal government reduced the number of health authorities to two from eight.
The idea, at the time, was to improve the delivery of services and cut down on inefficiencies in the system.
But Dr. Richard Dumais, the director of the Dumont’s pain clinic, said the result was "administration paralysis."
He said the list of problems with the current health network is growing.
"There are probably around 20 causes of low back pain, and they're trying to standardize that treatment, which can't work," he said.
"So I see, in my office, the consequences of that standardization and now they're trying to impose it on us."
Dr. Leo Picard, the chief of rheumatology at the hospital, said the problems with the administration started five years ago when the four separate francophone health regions merged into Vitalité.
The health authority’s administration was located in Bathurst.
As a university teaching hospital, Picard said this structure isn't working.
"We teach, we do research, we treat patients and all of this. Our needs are different than the rest," Picard said.
"If we become more independent, we'll have more leverage to negotiate with the federal [government] to bring in more funds for research."